All photos and text by Jack Rothman
All rights reserved. No photo may be copied or duplicated without written permission.

Copyright 2014

Updated 11/26/14

Located in the Bronx, New York, City Island is a small island, approximately one mile long and a quarter mile wide. City Island is surrounded by Eastchester Bay on one side and Long Island Sound on the other. Its bridge attaches to a roadway adjacent to Pelham Bay Park, New York City's largest park. In this area, and in the waters and wetlands, in and around City Island, many bird species thrive. Here, several and varied migratory birds are found. This website was created to help study, appreciate, and protect all the birds of this area.

Save Forests and Save Birds

Ancient Boreal forests are being cut down for 
Toilet Tissue, Paper Towels and Catalogs!

City Island Birds
Since 2007

Birding Advocacy

More than 80,000 people have viewed this page.

Welcome to City Island Birds. I created this website because this area of New York City is little known and underutilized by birdwatchers and other nature lovers. Pelham Bay Park, with its woods and wetlands is a critical stopover and nesting area to many migratory species.

Photos and Results of Our Past Walks
2007- 2010

Winter Bird Walk- January 9
First Spring Walk- April 17
Easter Walk- April 24
Split Rock-Mother’s Day Walk- May 7 
Turtle Cove “Watch”- June 26
Raptor and Waterfowl Walk- Nov. 27
Owl Walk- March 24
Owlet Walk April 15, 2012
Spring “Migration Madness” Walk- May 6
Clapper Rail Walk- May 27   
Fall Migration Walk- Sept. 23, 2012
Migration Walk- October 14, 2012
Last Minute Barred Owl Walk- Dec. 9, 2012
Bronx Brooklyn Walk- January 12
Spring Migration Walk- May 5
Three Club Walk-  August 24
Fall Migration Walk 2013
Owlet Walk- April 13
Spring Migration Walk -May 10
Fall Migration Walk-October 12Previous_Birdwalks.htmlWinter_Bird_Walk.htmlEarly_Spring_Migration_Walk.htmlEaster_Walk.htmlSplit_Rock-_Mothers_Day_Walk.htmlTurtle_Cove_%22Watch%22.htmlRaptor_and_Waterfowl_Walk.htmlOwl_Walk.htmlOwlet_Walk.htmlMigration_Madness.htmlClapper_Rail_walk.htmlFall_Migration_Walk.htmlFall_Migration_2012.htmlbarred_Owl_Walk.htmlBronx_Brooklyn_Walk.htmlSpring_Migration_2013.htmlThree_Club_Walk.htmlFall_Migration_2013.htmlOwlet_Walk_2014.htmlSpring_Migration_2014.htmlFall_Migration_2014.htmlshapeimage_9_link_0shapeimage_9_link_1shapeimage_9_link_2shapeimage_9_link_3shapeimage_9_link_4shapeimage_9_link_5shapeimage_9_link_6shapeimage_9_link_7shapeimage_9_link_8shapeimage_9_link_9shapeimage_9_link_10shapeimage_9_link_11shapeimage_9_link_12shapeimage_9_link_13shapeimage_9_link_14shapeimage_9_link_15shapeimage_9_link_16shapeimage_9_link_17shapeimage_9_link_18shapeimage_9_link_19shapeimage_9_link_20


Barnacle Goose at Orchard Beach

Jack Rothman


Traveling and Birding the Amazon

Several people have requested information about our trip to the Amazon.

Birding Interest- Past Articles

Important and Useful

The Wild Bird Fund   (Animal Rehabber)

New York Tide Chart

Urban Park Rangers

NY State Parks

Birdcast (Migration Reports)


City Island?
Pelham Bay Park Map
City Island Community
Directions Here
City Island Birding ClubCIB_Club.html

American Wigeon stay close to shore and can be found off Hunter Island by the rocks. This is a breeding male.

Ruddy Duck are small and compact but with a large head. The long tail is a good identification marker.

This good looking duck is a male Canvasback in breeding plumage. They are occasionally seen here. This photo was taken near Rye Playland.

Waiting for the Owls, Ducks, Loons, Grebes, Razorbills...

While the woods are filled with winter species: Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers , and a variety of Sparrows. Here and there we spotted a Kinglet or two and Hermit Thrush.There were also a surprising number of Purple Finches around. However, the variety or species and numbers of of duck has been small. Off Hunter Island were some Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead, Scaup, Mallards and Black Duck, in relatively small numbers. They should all be arriving soon, possibly on the next front.

Walking by Turtle Cove, I spotted a Barred Owl overhead and tried to locate it in nearby trees but no luck. Birders I met on trails on Hunter Island found our resident Great Horned Owls.

Looking on my shelf today I spotted an old, “Birder’s Journal” that Jane gave me from 1998 and enjoyed reading through my notes. I wrote about the tree with all the berries along the path at Turtle Cove and how so many Cedar Waxwings were feeding on it. Things haven’t changed. I still check out that same tree every time I walk by that spot. The journal had little sayings on it at the bottom of every few pages. Many were quite nice:

“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Henry David Thoreau

“Hope is the thing of feathers

That perches in the Soul”

Emily Dickinson

My earlier notes date back to 1992 but I guess this journal was too large to carry and so I stopped using it in favor of small notebooks. One day I should compare species by date.

When the ducks and/or owls return, I’ll be sure to have a walk. I will check this week, perhaps Tuesday or Wednesday. If things pick up we should try for a walk on Sunday, November 30.

Since we should be looking at waterfowl in the next few months, I’ve decided to post the photos below. Not all were taken in Pelham Bay Park.

There are always lots of Bufflehead around. In the right light, with good binoculars, you can see the great iridescent head colors of the male. Otherwise, the duck appears to have a black and white head. Bufflehead are our smallest duck.

Binocular and Smartphone Help

If you’re not familiar with how your computer or smartphone can help you be a better and more successful birder, you should read my little primer, link here.

If you need or want a new pair of binoculars, you might want to begin here. Binoculars have really changed in the last few years. You can get a fantastic pair for a few hundred dollars and a really good pair for less than $200. Years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much choice. You should link here for ratings.

The Kazimiroff Nature Trail of Hunter Island
You may have noticed the new signs posted along the paths on Hunter island. The numbers correlate to different features of the “Island.” If you link below, you can find out what each sign post means. Dr. Kazimiroff was a noted Bronx naturalist. The trail marked in his honor winds through the largest and most natural of all of NYC parks. This area was once hunting and fishing grounds and the site of huge mansions. To find out more, print and bring the guide with you on your next walk. Kazimiroff Trail.pdf


Brown ducks can be quite confusing, especially the females. This is a female Gadwall. For me, the puffy head is a good marker. We see Gadwall in the Hunter Island lagoon as well as the Turtle Cove pond.

We usually can be sure of Red-breasted Merganser off Hunter or Twin Island. They come early and stay late.

Bronx-Westchester Christmas Bird Count
December 28, 2014
Join us for this important “citizen science” event.
For more information contact me,

After Thanksgiving Birdwalk

Sunday, November 30, 2014

8:30 Sharp

Hunter Island, Pelham Bay Park

Work off some of the Thanksgiving holiday calories while we search for winter passerines, waterfowl  and raptors.  Link here for more information.